In recognition of her many distinguished contributions to the FASD community, including as a special education teacher, FASD trainer, and since 2010 the Chairperson of the Alaska FASD Partnership, NOFAS enshrines Naucetaaq Monica Charles Leinberger in the Tom and Linda Daschle FASD Hall of Fame.
As an FASD/behavioral specialist and special education teacher in the Lower Kuskokwim School District (LKSD) in Bethel, Alaska, Leinberger was responsible for referrals and coordinating the writing and implementation of Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) at schools where there are no special education teachers. She provided in-service training to teachers and aides to enable then to carry out special education programs and provided consultation to classroom teachers regarding the educational needs of special education students. Her travel between schools could be very difficult. She would fly, boat, snowmachine or drive on the river–depending on the season and whether or not the river was safe enough for travel to the villages. Her work also included assisting families in understanding their child’s rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Throughout the school system she conduced Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders trainings, and served as the liaison between LKSD and the FAS Diagnostic Team.
Qaluk’aq Kayleen Stevens (pictured above) is a special young woman living with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome that Leinberger has become close to over the past ten years. Leinberger’s passion for her work is evident when she talks about her relationship with Stevens, “It took her about two years to learn my name…Naucetaaq Monica Charles Leinberger. Once she learned my full name, she would greet me by my entire name. Qaluk’ag is one of those dear to my heart and I plan on flying out to Nunapitchuk when she graduates from high school. She is one of the driving forces that remind me of the importance of speaking up about FASD–be it providing training and awareness, or advocating on behalf of an individual and their families. Qaluk’aq is one of many individuals from the YK Delta [Yukon-Kuskokwim] who experience FASD whom I have grown to love and cherish, and will know each other the rest of our lives.”
This year, Leinberger was appointed by the court as a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) to represent the best interests of a minor for the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. She is one of two first Yup’ik Eskimos hired as GALs for the region and state. She also recently published a paper with William J. Edwards, Advocating for the Proper Educational Services and Community Support for Children with FASD, and has edited since 2002 articles on FASD and education in the Lower Kuskokwim School District newsletter, Elicaq.
She has served as an Adjunct Faculty Member at the University of Alaska-Kuskokwim Campus, as an interpreter for the deaf and teacher of American Sign Language, and as a camp counselor for children and adolescents with disabilities. Leinberger has lectured on FASD and conducted education-focused trainings across Alaska and at major FASD conferences in Washington State and Arkansas.
Leinberger is a Yup’ik Eskimo woman born and raised in Bethel, Alaska, and the mother of three beautiful children that are bilingual in Yup’ik and English. She received her B.Ed. in elementary education from University of Alaska-Fairbanks 1997 and is soon to complete a graduate program Masters in Special Education from University of Alaska Southeast.
NOFAS salutes Naucetaaq Monica Charles Leinberger for her dedication to FASD, and welcomes her induction in the Tom and Linda Daschle FASD Hall of Fame.
Tom and Linda Daschle FASD Hall of Fame
Established in 2005, the Hall of Fame was named for former U.S. Senator Tom Daschle and his wife Linda Hall Daschle as a tribute to their commitment and leadership in the fight to prevent alcohol-related birth defects, and their long-standing support of NOFAS.
The Hall of Fame serves as a spotlight honoring the heroes living with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders and the families, advocates and, researchers devoted to preventing and treating the disorder. Periodically, a new hero will be permanently enshrined in the Hall of Fame.
“Linda and I salute the early pioneers in this field, and the families living with FAS. There should be a Hall of Fame for them. A Hall of heroes that inspires healing, hope and progress. A Hall for anyone willing to commit whatever it takes.” – Senator Tom Daschle